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PLEASE NOTE: A much higher-quality DV version (2.3 GB) now available at http://www.archive.org/details/TripDownMarketStreetrBeforeTheFire
Pictures San Francisco's main thoroughfare as seen from the front window of a moving Market Street cable car, before the downtown area was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and fire. This unusual record has been called the first "structural film" because it follows exactly the externally imposed structure of the car ride.
Here is a post from the SFGate blog that explains some of the history of this film and how film scholar David Kiehn discovered that it was in fact produced in 1906 (just before the quake and fire), not 1905: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/stew/detail?entry_id=62237
This movie is part of the collection: Prelinger Archives
Producer: Miles Brothers
Audio/Visual: Si, B&W
Keywords: San Francisco: Scenics: Historical; Transportation: Cable cars; Landscapes: Cultural
Creative Commons license: Public Domain
|Movie Files||MPEG2||Ogg Video||512Kb MPEG4|
|Image Files||Animated GIF||Thumbnail|
|Other Files||256Kb Real Media||64Kb Real Media||Archive BitTorrent|
Subject: simply amazing
5***** & i got the big file!!
Rick Prelinger -
Subject: Better copy now available for download
Don't download this version -- use this new one:
This is a DV file (2.3 GB) made from a 35mm print, which in turn was made from our new preservation negative.
Subject: Old things - good things
That was very interesting to see how people lived before us.
Subject: Is there not a better copy?
I am not referring to the rolling. I'm referring to the line sync issues, er, digital distortion or whatever it is.
Tiny lines that are certainly not part of the film.
This is also a very low res file: 368X480.
I am confident the Miles Brothers would want their film to be available to as many people as possible in the highest quality possible.
Subject: CBS 60-Minutes episode
Subject: As seen on 60 Minutes, Actually April 1906
Investigators redated the film to April 1906,
days before the earthquake/fire.
The film would have been destroyed except it was on
a train headed for NYC!
Earle Bruce -
going back in time
Subject: SFGate blog about film
Here is a fairly recent article about the film.
It identifies the owner of the car with the 4867 plate as a Jay Anway.
Subject: Trip down market street
It should be noted that the driver of the car with the license plate of what appears to be #4867 is more than likely Harry Miles of the Miles Bros. who shot this film. He would be one of the first film makers to place himself anonymously in his own movies similar to the way Alfred Hitchcock did. The Miles Bros. had just built the first fully functioning and equipped motion picture studio and were set to start cranking out films and distributing them the way films are done today. Unfortunately, the earthquake and fire devastated and destroyed all the equipment, plans, and photos of the studio. Less than 2 years later Harry, who was the creative mind behind the Miles Bros. is believed to have taken his own life leaping from his New York apt. building. A fantastic trip to the past. This film is incredible at showing all of the nuances of daily life over 100 years ago.
Subject: The trip down Market
Very cool and surprisingly good footage. The free for all in traffic is great - what a hoot! It does seem as though some of the people, especially the kids, are playing up to the camera, trying to get into the shot.
Rena Dein, Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum -
Subject: Great Film - and it was made in 1906 right before the quake!
FYI: A Trip Down Market Street was filmed in 1906
This film, originally thought to be from 1905 until David Kiehn with the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum figured out exactly when it was shot. From New York trade papers announcing the film showing to the wet streets from recent heavy rainfall & shadows indicating time of year & actual weather and conditions on historical record, even when the cars were registered (he knows who owned them and when the plates were issued).. It was filmed only four days before the quake and shipped by train to NY for processing. Amazing but true!
Subject: Re: Trip Down Market Street Before the Fire
Wow, this is an amazing movie made from 1905. I enjoyed looking at what life was like 104 years ago. It made me wonder what people were thinking and doing at that time. What were they thinking about? Where they were coming from and going to? What news they were hearing about at the time? What were the trends and I try to think about what I know about American History of that time (aka: President Theodore Roosevelt). That motion film is an excellent capture of time for anyone to think and try to relate to those people 104 years ago. There were lots of stories to be created from that; no script planned. That's unique.
This film is simply amazing. It should be a standard in American History classes. I knew that traffic in the early part of the 20th Century was much congested and dangerous, but you really can't appreciate it unless you see it. This film shows the need for traffic rules. No one seems to give a care for anyone else on the road, nor looks for that matter. It does explain why there were so many accidents reported in the newspapers at the time.
On the technical side the film is very clear and detailed compared to other films of the day. It has been preserved well. It is a pity that the projector used to display the film would cause the image to roll. Perhaps this can be fixed in a future restoration.
Subject: Magnificent Archival Footage
These five stars go to both the original film-maker for their pioneering work in documentary film-making and to the Prelinger Archives for restoring the footage, making it possible for all of us to see it.
I could actually make out the gas-powered lamps on some of the automobiles of the day and recognize the coaches on the cable cars as being very similar to the electric street-cars I rode is as a small child in New Orleans, LA.
Another five stars should go to the poignancy of the fact this may very well be the last footage taken of Market Street before the horrific 1906 earthquake and fire.
Jamie Tyroler -
At first, I kind of questioned if this was actually filmed in 1905 due to the number of automobiles on the road. I thought they would have been more of a novelty at the time. I noticed a few comments about some of the technical aspects of this film, but I'm impressed that someone took the effort to mount a camera and hand crank it for the duration and, although not having personal experience from riding a San Francisco cable car in 1905, I imagine it wasn't the smoothest ride - probably nothing would have been at the time. It's fantastic that someone made this and it still survives.
marcus lucero -
Subject: Footage after the fire.
As mentioned below there is also footage of this same route taken after the earthquake and fire of 1906. Gloomy and photographicly grainy but none the less interesting, It is located here at the archive.
This beautiful and fascinating historical ride through San Francisco is IMHO completely ruined by the moving frame.
I wish someone would fix it.
Juan Schwarz -
Subject: Great film
This movie is just great, it's kind of an unintentional documentary of street life in 1905 ;)
The frame roll DOES actually disturb a little, someone offered to fix that, I'd love to see a version without that frame roll, even if there is a white line in the middle. As Mr. Prelinger said, it would be really difficult getting a better telecine, so doing what's possible with this would surely be an acceptable solution if someone had the time to do it.
Subject: Before / After
Not yet mentioned by anyone below, there's also an identical trip down Market Street just AFTER the fire. It's somewhat cryptical title is "tmp_50168". It is mirrored, so you have t flip the image yourself, but check these two out in tandem: the same route, the same speed; absolutely incredible!!!
Subject: Like a trip going back in time
Fascinating film footage. No traffic lights, the way cars and carriages scuttled across the trolley tracks, etc. I felt bad for the horses. People seemed to take larger steps. It was a much different world. Very poignant, especially considering the tragic fire that was soon to effect most of these people. One of the best historical films in the Prelinger collection.
Michael Kiraly -
Like looking thru the window of a time machine.
The eerie silence reminds me that all these people are long dead and gone.
Fascinating, I loved it!
Subject: The Jaywalkers
Someone else mentioned this, but it is interesting how people crossed the street when and where they pleased. This must have been the case on every street. No need to worry about a car bearing down on you at 30 or 40 mph. Must have been a lot of people run over in the transition to faster and faster cars.
Jeff Martin -
Subject: Trip Down Market--the remake!
An earlier reviewer suggests a remake; someone's done it. Article below from the Chronicle, which, irritatingly, doesn't mention Ernie Gehr's film (and uses the word "herky-jerky.")
Wednesday, August 3, 2005 (SF Chronicle)
After 100 years, not much has changed on Market Street -- well, not too much
ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ On a sunny September afternoon in 1905, a man named Jack Kuttner attached a camera to a San Francisco trolley and shot black-and-white film as the streetcar rolled east from 10th Street on Market Street. The result, a herky-jerky 20-minute film, is a time capsule of industrial age mobility...
ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ Few copies of Kuttner's film exist, but the Exploratorium, a museum in San Francisco, owns one. San Francisco filmmaker Melinda Stone saw it six years ago; transfixed, she decided to re-create it at its centennial. She is nothing if not patient. Years of planning came to fruition recently when she and a small crew shadowed Kuttner's feat. The result will be shown, along with Kuttner's film and local artists' transportation-related
work, at "A Trip Down Market Street 1905/2005," an outdoor screening on Sept. 24 in San Francisco's Justin Herman Plaza, sponsored by the Exploratorium.
Wilford B. Wolf -
Subject: Historical Treasure
This silent film is one of the earliest films in the Prelinger archive and an absolutely incredible document. The film, shot in 1905, covers Market St. before the destruction of the 1906 earthquake and subsequent fire. This film seems to be originally shot during the era when film making was novel and similar films were made to show city life in various parts of the world. As such, this makes this film a wonderful record of city life around the turn of the twentith-century. But because of the tradegy that the city would suffer in less than a year after the film was shot, it makes this film all the more important and poignant.
Do note that the film suffers from frame roll, especially at the begining and the end of the film and the last 30 seconds of the film seem to be select frames. However, given the age and importance of the film, these defects are forgiven. Otherwise, the image quality is quite good.
Subject: Trip Down Market Street, revisited.
Avant-garde filmmaker Ernie Gehr reworked this footage in 1974 to make a half-hour film entitled "Eureka", available through Canyon Cinema.
Subject: Look Out!!
One big thing I noticed about this film, is the traffic carnage happening. I mean, you think all the jaywalking, speeding, unsafe turning is bad NOW, you should see this film, where pedestrians come out of nowhere, cars make totally unsafe crossings of the street, and people just zig and zag out. Watch for the kids running around looking at the camera, and the wonderful bit at the end, where the kid looks out from a covered horse and wagon.
Some enterprising filmmaker ought to attempt to create a similar film in 2005, matching as closely as possible the location, camera position, time of day and year, and rate of speed moving down Market Street. The two films could then be composited as side-by-side moving images showing two views of San Francisco 100 years apart.
I'd like to attempt to correct the frame roll myself, but would need full frame uncompressed video to work from.
Subject: A work of genius
Even today it's very rare to see such profound simple idea so well executed. And remember that in those days even fewer people realized the film medium's potential that today. Consider this for example: Berlin Wall was such a unique object which stood in place for 28 years yet we have no photographic or film record of it besides snippets. This film here shows its anonymous creator's amazing foresight. It also must have cost a lot of money to shoot it back then.
A technical note: it seems the speed has been overcorrected a bit: everything moves in a slight slo-mo.
Finally: the same person (apparently) reshot this film *after* the earthquake. This amazing film is at movies03.archive.org/2/movies/SanFranc1906_3 (note the suffix is "_3"; there is also a similar short film whose name ends with "_2" - a different thing, also quite interesting).
Skevos Mavros -
Subject: Love This, plus An Offer
I love this film, and I'd be happy to correct the "vertical hold" issue for you. But in order to do a good job I'd really need a "full frame" telecine, that is, one that is not cropped at all and shows the very top and bottom of the frame area (maybe even a bit of the previous and next frames). Otherwise when I correct the roll movement by rejoining the top and bottom of the images and repositioning them, there will be a small gap between the two parts. Basically, the rolling images would be replaced with a small horizontal white bar travelling up the image. Better than the current issue, sure, but still not perfect.
Yes, I realise providing a full frame telecine means threading this precious film back through the telecine, so if you're not comfortable doing that then I'll work with what you've got already. Let me know, the offer is there.
(I'm still looking for a contact email, so I'll post this offer as a review for now)
Subject: I see dead people.
Incredibly moving visual account. Thank you.
Subject: I thought the traffic was bad today!
I thoroughly enjoyed this, the silence allowing me to see more than I would otherwise. I understand why stripes were painted on the streets and stop signs and eventually lights were installed. It was a health hazard to walk in that town! No right-of-way seemed to be observed. It would have rated a 5 if the vertical hold problem could be fixed.
Subject: Very shaky picture
Cheezus, this looks all bumpy and messed up, like it was filmed 100 years ago or something.
tropikal flower -
Subject: A Trip Down Market Street Before the Fire
What amazes me is the quality of detail in the pictures. A zoom lens and we would have been to see their souls.!!!
I particularly enjoyed the multitude of methods of transportation co-existing during the same period. When I studied history in school, I was left with the erroneous notion that once the car was created all other means of transportation dissapeared. This film shows us that it was not so.
A great historical treat! It was worth the almost two hours to download!
Subject: Looking into the past
Enjoyed being able to look back to a time that I was not present for. Seeing this archival footage of the 1905 San Francisco area allowed me to see what a typical couple of minutes may have been like to live at that time and place.
I really enjoyed being able to see the people of the time, their transportation options, clothing, and places of business. What a great place it would have been to visit in the early 1900's.
It is such a powerful example of why humans need to preserve our motion pictures.